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Better education needed to win hearts for digital trust capabilities, says DIACC

Better education needed to win hearts for digital trust capabilities, says DIACC

In its latest Public Trust Forum Report, the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) says hesitations about digital trust capabilities are partly the result of a gap in education around biometrics and digital identity, and partly due to missing or incomplete trust frameworks.

In a release, DIACC President Joni Brennan says concerns about data privacy, biometric security and potential misuse of personal information are understandable. “People should rightly be concerned because there are often no easily understood rules around where their personal data lives, who owns it, or how others use it,” says Brennan. “In today’s digital world, trust remains at a premium, and the importance of identity verification is at an all-time high.”

The report draws on a pair of Public Trust Forum sessions wherein academics, non-profit organizations, private companies, and governments at the provincial level discussed how to foster and sustain secure and inclusive digital transformation, and the role that ID verification will play. The full report is available here, but the DIACC highlights key takeaways and recommendations that include firm statements on issues such as consent, terminology and public communication.

One major conclusion is that universal acceptance of digital trust capabilities is a unicorn.

“Don’t wait for a universal public consensus on adopting digital trust capabilities because it will never come,” reads the report. “Use of government-issued digital credentials must be voluntary. Commit and message that public adoption is voluntary. Individuals may choose to use digital trust services or not.”

Less awkward verbiage could behoove digital ID uptake

The question of a digital ID lexicon features heavily in the report, with the DIACC raising concerns that the term “digital ID” is vague and risks conjuring dystopian images of Orwellian surveillance or constant authentication. While it stops short of recommending the abandonment of the term, it does suggest that public education efforts “reduce the temperature by moving public messaging away from the confusing term ‘digital identity’ in certain situations. Terms like ‘verify,’ ‘authenticate’ and ‘credential’ are more easily understood.”

Other recommendations involved foregrounding use cases involving public safety, making significant investment in public education at all levels, and taking a modular approach to transformation, “rather than trying to boil the ocean with a national or universal strategy.”

In framing an approach to increased public education, the DIACC advises combining pragmatism with the power of narrative. A storytelling campaign that illustrates the tangible benefits of digital ID and trust capabilities to areas of life that people understand, it says, can help close the trust gap. “An effective communications strategy must focus on real-life success stories. Use practical examples of how digital trust capabilities improve service delivery, such as in the aviation and financial sectors.”

“Establishing safe and convenient use of digital ID services means establishing trust,” says Joni Brennan. “People must have confidence and control over their identity data, and on the flip side, they must have evidence that their privacy, security and choices are secured. The bottom line is that organizations and governments must prioritize transparency, robust data protection measures, and ethical data usage while actively engaging with the public to address concerns.”

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